Do you believe that mining regulations should be strengthened in Nevada to require mining companies to pay for both access to public lands and royalties on minerals extracted from public lands?
Mining, the second largest industry in Nevada, poses serious threats to Nevada's environment, primarily through habitat destruction and degradation and depletion of water resources. Contamination of ground and surface water threatens wildlife populations and residents living downstream from mining operations. The recently designated Superfund site at the Leviathan Mine in California's Alpine County is one of the nation's worst environmental disasters: The long-closed sulfur mine sends heavy metals downstream into western Nevada's Douglas County and has decimated all aquatic life in a nearby stream. Currently mining laws allow free access to mineral resources on all public lands. Additionally, mining companies are not required to pay royalties on minerals extracted on public lands. Only by strengthening these laws can we ensure that Nevada's waterways and important resources are protected for future generations.
Do you support the designation of wild public land in Nevada as National Wilderness Areas?
How do you propose to manage the 49 million acres of BLM land in Nevada, including the five million acres of Wilderness Study Areas, not yet designated as National Wilderness Areas by Congress?
Nevada is the most mountainous, the driest, and the fourth most biologically diverse state in the nation. It is also at the heart of the public land management debate, because a remarkable 87 percent of the state is publicly owned. Nevada has five million acres of Bureau of Land Management Wilderness Study Areas that are protected to maintain wilderness characteristics until designated as National Wilderness Areas by Congress. However, Nevada currently has less than 800,000 acres of designated wilderness, making it one of only two Western states with less than 1.5 million acres of designated wilderness.
President Clinton has proposed the protection of up to 60 million acres of roadless, national forest lands, including more than 3 million acres of remote mountain wildlands in the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest. The Forest Service may develop regulations to implement this plan following environmental review and public comment. The level of protection being proposed would allow most types of recreation, but logging, mining, road construction and off-road motorized vehicles would be prohibited. However, no roads would be closed.
Are you in favor of privatizing a significant portion of public lands in Nevada?
In contrast to the "Sagebrush Rebellion" movement to transfer federal land to the state, privatization efforts aim to sell public lands to private landowners. The Nevada Association of Counties recently proposed a State Office of Federal Land Coordination, which would attempt to move forward the privatization agenda in the next session of the state legislature. The environmental community is not entirely opposed to selling off certain public lands in places such as Lincoln County, where 98 percent of the land base is federally owned. However, widespread privatization will likely result in environmental degradation and uncontrolled development.
Do you favor or oppose a nuclear waste storage facility at Yucca Mountain?
After a decades-long analysis of potential sites for long-term storage of the nation's spent nuclear fuel, a facility at Yucca Mountain, near Las Vegas, was chosen several years ago. Supporters of the proposed repository say steps have been taken to make the mountain a safe place to store nuclear waste, and that Nevada may also benefit from additional funding for schools and roads. Opponents say Yucca Mountain is not a safe place to store nuclear waste and the plan to do so endangers the well being of Nevadans. They are concerned not only about the site itself, which is close to a major population center and may be unstable, but also about transportation of the waste, which would occur on regular Nevada highways or rail lines. They say the federal government is just trying to buy the state off because the waste is dangerous and no other state will accept it. The scientific assessment of the site has not yet been completed and is crucial in determining whether this site is safe for both humans and wildlife.
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